Max, Peter(German/American, b. 1937)
Born in Berlin and raised in Shanghai for the first decade of his life, Peter Max grew up in “a pagoda-style house situated amidst a Buddhist monastery, a Sikh temple and a Viennese café.” As a youth, images of America spoke to him through vibrant comic books, films, and jazz. Max traveled with his family to the foothills of the Himalayas, France, Israel and Africa.
In Israel, Max became a pupil to a Fauve painter, and in his sixteenth year, Max enrolled in an art school in Paris. Later that year, Max and his family moved to New York, and upon graduation from high school, he studied art at The Art Student’s League.
Realism and graphic art dovetail in his early work, and later find expression more explicitly in the hyper-realism, the psychedelic, and vibrant colors of his more mature work—the “Cosmic 1960’s style.” Max credits this iconic “Cosmic” style with his interest in Eastern spiritual teachings.
Peter Max both honored and determined some of the most well-known American iconography of the 1960’s and 1970’s, contributing images to Life magazine, the U.S. postal stamp, many album and book covers; he also produced an art book and corresponding installation, Peter Max Paints America. Max painted presidential portraits, served as the Official Woodstock Music Festival artist, and in 1982, painted a series of images of the Statue of Liberty on the White House lawn. Yet Max’s work has become progressively more global in its concerns, and Max has contributed to such works as a series for the United Nations building, posters addressing a myriad of social and environmental concerns, and the Better World Series.
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